“It’s the tornado siren take cover!”
The huge crowd surges forward. They scatter over the wide flat land as I run for the line of trees ahead. There’s a small house or shed sitting there. I know it will offer little protection, but what choice do I have?
I get inside with three other people. I look at my surroundings. The shoddily built structure sags to the right and the walls are nothing more than a series of decaying wooden slats. I look through the rectangular hole that was once a window.
It is the largest, most awesome, most terrifying thing I have ever seen.
It stretches from ground to cloud. It is the dark angry grey of a savage sea. It swirls and churns, eating the ground before it. I see it and I know there is no escape. It is moving too fast, directly towards us, and it is too wide to run from.
I’m frozen with fear. The only thing I can do is stand there and face the terror, somehow this calms me and steels my nerve.
My mind clears. I stand up straight and watch it come.
It’s twenty feet away when it’s cut in half. The anger and darkness of that horrible funnel disappear. I look out the window to the right to see if it’s changed course. No, it’s gone, but a final updraft grabs a teenage girl. She’s sucked two hundred feet into the air like a particle of dust in God’s vacuum.
The wind loses energy and she’s dropped, I know the impact will kill her. In the two seconds this happens I feel I owe it to her somehow to watch this transpire. I can’t save her but maybe I can be with her somehow. Maybe I can connect to her by the sheer will of my emotion and a quick prayer. Maybe my heart and mind can cross the space between us to give her some form of companionship before she feels the cruelty of unmitigated violence.
She is a foot from the ground, and something stops her. It’s an invisible caress of power. It catches her gently and lifts her a few inches before laying her on the grass. It looks like when my wife would put our sons down in the crib; soft and gentle and loving.
I’m amazed and my heart feels warm. Sunlight fills the air. I watch a few others lifted and placed on the ground, and suddenly I know, deep in my soul, inexplicably, everyone survived, everyone is saved.
Deus ex machina.
Then I wake up.
So begins this morning.
I lay back on my pillow still a little out of breath, trying to piece it all together.
The swirling destruction of a tornado is an apt metaphor for my mind. Goals, desires, worries, fears, safety, legacy, and the millions of thoughts that swirl through my consciousness often send me running for cover. I seek any protection I can find, no matter how shoddily it’s built.
How many times in life have I felt this way? That things have become so big, the inevitability of my destruction is imminent, that there is nowhere left to run?
Is the dream a premonition? Is my mind screaming at me to watch out!
No, the answer comes to me unceremoniously:
I was saved when I let go of fear.
Others were saved when I was with them in spirit.
God is with me, always inside me, always around me, and that is what brings me serenity. I don’t have to solve every problem and most of the time I can’t help those around me to my satisfaction. I watch them get swept up, and I can only pray and send them love.
In this Lenten season as I meditate on Christ’s sacrifice I can’t help but feel that is the lesson of the Passion. By dying for our sins, he says to us:
I love you. Let go of fear. Pray. Send love.
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